Pitbull kicked off the first iHeartRadio Music Awards with a colorful performance – and words for Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling.
“I want to welcome the world to the first iHeartRadio Music Awards. Now everyone that’s here is a who’s who, a what’s what, the anybody’s of all anybody’s – except of course for Donald Sterling,” he told the crowd after his performance.
“So, with that said, you can take a picture with whoever you want tonight – even Magic Johnson,” he said to cheers.
Sterling was banned for life from the NBA and fined $2.5 million Tuesday for making racist comments.
Pitbull, who won best collaboration for the No. 1 hit “Timber” with Kesha, performed that song and “Wild Wild Love” with girl group G.R.L. and female background dancers who wore white and gold.
“I’m nervous being up here with you,” the rapper said, looking to Pharrell, who presented him the award.
Rihanna, nominated for artist and song of the year, won hip-hop/R&B song of the year for the anthemic “Pour It Up” and best fan army.
“It’s not easy what we do. It’s very difficult at times. It’s a lot of pressure to be a lot of things, and I’ve never felt comfortable being anything other than myself – and I just thank my fans for being supportive,” she said. “And we’re a family. We stick together. I love you guys.”
Miley Cyrus, who is recovering from a severe allergic reaction to antibiotics, won best lyrics for her No. 1 hit, “Wrecking Ball.” Her father picked up her award.
“As a dad, I can’t begin to tell you how much your thoughts, your love, your support for my family and Miley mean to all of us,” Billy Ray Cyrus said.
Lorde was also recovering from being sick, and she thanked fans in a video for her win for best new artist.
While there are trophies, the performances were night’s main highlight at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles.
Usher danced slickly to the new Michael Jackson single, “Love Never Felt This Good,” and 20-year-old Ariana Grande performed her new single “Problem” in a mini black dress and white knee-high boots that even had Rihanna blushing.
Luke Bryan, Kendrick Lamar and Bastille also performed during the fan-voted show, airing live on NBC. Pharrell, Blake Shelton, Shakira and Arcade Fire are also part of the jam-packed lineup, which will include performances from LA venues including the Shrine, the Roxy and the Hotel Cafe.
Rihanna will battle the boys for artist of the year, including Justin Timberlake, Maroon 5, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis and Imagine Dragons, who won alternative rock song of the year for “Demons.”
Rihanna is also nominated for song of the year. Her slow tune “Stay” will compete with Eminem’s “The Monster” – where she’s featured – as well as Pitbull and Kesha’s “Timber” and “Suit & Tie” and “Holy Grail” from Timberlake and Jay Z, respectively.
Follow Mesfin Fekadu at twitter.com/MusicMesfin